MEN’S FINAL FOUR COMPLETE WITH RED HOT CAST
Story and Photo
by Ted Lerner
(Shanghai, China)–Great Britain’s Chris Melling proved that his current number 2 ranking on the brutally tough Euro Tour is no fluke, as he put in a series of stellar performances on Saturday and stormed into Sunday’s semi-finals in the China Open 9-ball tournament in Shanghai.
It was a long and grueling road to hoe inside the Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium for the men as the field was reduced from 32 to four with race to 11, alternate break matches. Joining the red hot Brit in the first semi-final will be the Netherland’s Niels Feijen. The other semi-final will feature former double World Champion Ronnie Alcano of the Philippines against upstart Chinese-Taipei newcomer Hsu Kai Lun.
Melling has seen his stock rising over the last year and a half and he clearly has the pedigree to create some noise on the worldwide circuit. The 32 year old from Keighley in West Yorkshire is a former two time world champion in English 8 ball, and has a fair amount of professional snooker experience as well. Since turning to American pool, he’s dropped the other disciplines and poured his heart and soul into learning 9-ball.
“I’ve been practicing a lot,” Melling said. “And I’ve been playing good for the last 18 months.” Indeed he won the Portugal Open on the Euro in November, 2010, and then captured a GB9-ball event on the English tour. He recently made it to the quarter finals of the World 10-Ball in Manila.
Melling says he loves to play under pressure and this was quite evident Saturday in Shanghai. After drubbing Hong Kong’s Kenny Kwok in the round of the 32, Melling came up against one of the finest players in the world, the Philippines Lee Van Corteza. The Brit was up 10-7, only to have to withstand a furious comeback by Corteza, who tied the match at 10. Faced with a near impossible do or die, full table shot to win the match—with the cue ball in the corner jaws and the 9-ball way down on the spot, Melling sucked up the pressure and potted the winner.
“I said to myself, just go back to basics,” Melling said of the shot. “Stand still. Don’t move. Just fire that arm. I play really good under pressure. I just love it.”
Feijen, though, is another player who relishes pressure and has been gaining momentum in the last few days. The Dutchman dominated all three of his opponents Saturday.
Alcano seems to have captured some of the smooth shooting magic he displayed regularly back in 2006, when he won the World 9-ball and World 8-ball championships in one year. After escaping with an 11-10 win in his first match against Brunei’s surprise Murni, Ahmad Taufiq Binh, the Filipino turned it up a few notches and beat German great Ralf Souquet, 11-7, then took down streaking Japanese player Yukio Akakriyama, 11-9.
Alcano’s opponent in Sunday’s semi-final will be a player nobody outside of Chinese-Taipei had heard of before this week. Now in one day Hsu’s made a name for himself with three straight wins over very tough opponents, including a back and forth affair with China’s Lui Haitao.
Sunday’s first semi-final will begin at 9:30 AM(GMT +8) local time with the second one to follow immediately afterwards. The men’s final of the China Open 9-ball will be contested right after the women’s final.
You can follow all the action right here at www.wpa-pool.com through our live scoring platform.